Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 28 January 2020

Saudi Aramco to raise $25.6bn in world's biggest IPO

The state oil company will issue 3 billion shares at 32 riyals each

In 2018 Aramco produced 13.6 million barrels per day of oil equivalent. Handout Photo
In 2018 Aramco produced 13.6 million barrels per day of oil equivalent. Handout Photo

The initial public offering for shares in Saudi Arabia's state oil company, Saudi Aramco, is set to be the world's biggest, the company said on Thursday.

The company will issue 3 billion shares 32 riyals each, meaning the 96 billion riyals (Dh94bn) raised will be the highest for a stock market debut.

It will eclipse the $21.8bn debut made by China's eCommerce giant Alibaba on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

The offer was 4.65 times oversubscribed, with the offering process generating 397bn riyals of institutional subscriptions.

Retail investors had already subscribed for 47bn riyals, or more than 1.48 billion shares, when the offer closed to them last week.

An announcement confirming the selling price said an option had been granted by the company to cover an over-allotment of shares.

If granted, it could lead to another 450 million shares being issued, which could bring the eventual size of the offer up to 110.4bn riyals.

This option can be exercised within the first 30 days of the shares beginning to trade.

Saudi Aramco is the world's most profitable company, earning $68bn for the first nine months of the year on revenue of $217.1bn.

A debut $12bn bond issued by the company in April was more than ten-times oversubscribed.

In 2018 Aramco produced 13.6 million barrels per day of oil equivalent. Handout Photo
In 2018 Aramco produced 13.6 million barrels per day of oil equivalent. Handout Photo

Aramco accounts for one in every eight barrels of crude produced.

In 2018, it produced 13.6 million barrels per day of oil equivalent, including 10.3 million bpd of crude.

A briefing note published by Kamco Research on Wednesday said Aramco generated more net income "than the sum of the next seven largest players in the industry".

"This gives the company a market-leading position that also results in higher margins," Kamco said.

Data published by PwC showed that the amount being raised by Saudi Aramco is more than the cumulative amount raised on Gulf stock markets from 2010 until the third quarter of 2019.

The pricing of the offer at 32 riyals per share means that the company will have a weighting of 9.7 per cent on the Tadawul All-Share Index, analysts Al Rajhi Capital say.

Based on the weightings given to the company in benchmark indexes compiled by MSCI and FTSE Russell, two of the most keenly tracked indexes by passive funds, this could lead to an inflow of foreign funds worth $3.97bn.

The money raised from the offering is being set aside for the kingdom's economic transformation plan, known as Vision 2030.

Storage vessels at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia. The company announced the pricing for its initial public offering on the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, next week. EPA 
Storage vessels at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura refinery in Saudi Arabia. The company announced the pricing for its initial public offering on the Saudi stock exchange, Tadawul, next week. EPA

It will be channelled into the sovereign Public Investment Fund, which is expected to use it for ambitious projects such as the $500bn futuristic economic free zone, Neom, and the Red Sea tourism project.

"The Aramco deal will be of significant importance to Gulf capital markets as the IPO is seen as a crucial step in realising Vision 2030," said Lukman Otunuga, senior research analyst at currency brokerage FXTM.

Mr Otunuga said that its market debut would support the development of capital markets in the region.

"Optimism over the IPO boosting government finances and supporting economic growth in Saudi Arabia should stimulate appetite for Gulf stocks," he said.

"The Tadawul has gained roughly 1 per cent year to date and is positioned to push higher if the deal is positively received by markets."

Updated: December 7, 2019 07:28 PM

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